Information and Opinions

Exhibitions and events, as well as our perspective on the market

A.R Penck, Großes Weltbild (Large World Picture), 1965, oil on hardboard, 180 x 260 cm; installation view, Albertinum Dresden

A.R. Penck: „Ich aber komme aus Dresden (check it out man, check it out).” at the Albertinum, Dresden

21. October 2019
Carina Krause

This year, A.R. Penck, who died in 2017, would have turned 80. In his hometown of Dresden, the Albertinum has now dedicated an exhibition to him that will focus on his work until his departure from the GDR in 1980 – the unknown Penck, so to speak.

Not officially recognised as an artist in the GDR and thus excluded from the art scene, he nevertheless achieved artistic success in West Germany from 1968 onwards, thanks to his Cologne gallerist, Michael Werner. Penck’s works – those that Werner couldn’t smuggle across the border – were barred from display in the state-organised exhibitions and were therefore only accessible to a very limited audience.

Through an impressive selection of early paintings, drawings, prints, group work, music, Super 8 films, artist books, texts and sculptures, it is finally possible for a wider audience to explore Penck’s beginnings and approaches in detail.

This exhibition is an adventurous expedition through Penck’s almost unmanageable oeuvre. The paintings are arranged chronologically. Partition walls were deliberately omitted in order to make it easier for visitors to immerse themselves in the various stations presenting artist’s books, texts, sculptures, music and film. Everything seems to be interwoven. Just as Penck worked across different media, visitors can embark on a multimedia journey of discovery.

The exhibition begins with a series of paintings of the classical subjects portrait, still life and nude, in which the influence of Picasso and van Gogh are clearly discernible. These works date from the 1950s, when Penck made his first contacts with other artists at the Volkshochschule. They were soon meeting privately for artistic experimentation.

Collaboration and exchange with other artists would remain important for Penck in the years to come. For although he was not allowed to study at any art academy, despite several applications, and was not allowed to become a member of the Verband der Bildenden Künstler (Association of Artists), he was firmly integrated in the Dresden art scene – in the underground scene, at least.

In 1971 he is a founding member of the artist group Lücke (gap, void). The authorities are not amused. This period is very well documented in the exhibition, both by group paintings and by Super 8 films. Eventually, in 1976, the group broke up, partly because of the massive obstruction caused by politics and spying – and partly simply because the project was artistically exhausted. Two years later, Penck co-founded the Obergrabenpresse, which is also represented in the exhibition.

Early world and system pictures can be seen, e.g. Großes Weltbild (Large World Picture) from 1965. In its reduction of colour, and its reduction of the figure to a stick figure, it is an example of Penck’s new pictorial language, which does not seek to value, but to analyse and clarify structures.

Several self-portraits, in which the artist enacts ever new roles and characters, are spread throughout the exhibition. This attraction to changing identities would be continued in the frequent change of pseudonyms. He was born Ralf Winkler, but from the 1960s onwards he signs his works A.R. Penck. Later, he also calls himself Mike Hammer, TX, y, and α, among others.

However, some of the highlights of the exhibition are the 17 Super 8 films, which will be shown here for the first time to this extent. The themes of the films are widely varied and range from street scenes of 1970s Dresden to artist friends, an art auction and the founding event of the Lücke artist group. In these films, as in his other works, it becomes clear that Penck perceived the world as a large space of signs in which everything was given a deeper meaning. His cinematic oeuvre ended with his departure from the GDR in 1980 and was almost forgotten.

The artist’s books also deserve special mention. As in other areas, Penck’s main focus is on communication and information. He compares images and texts and creates his large standard system. The majority of the artist’s books have been digitised, so the visitor can effectively witness the emergence and development of a Penck idea while leafing through them.

The artist’s books have developed from various materials, such as order pads, writing pads or account books. Penck is not choosy when it comes to his selection of media, as can be seen in his paintings: kitchen cupboard doors, cardboard, blankets – everything is acceptable. In a very subtle way, this shows that breaking conventions and rules is simply part of Penck’s work.

There is a lot to see and hear in this exhibition. Fascinating references ease access to Penck’s complex work and make it even more interesting.

The exhibition can be seen from 5 October 2019 to 12 January 2020 at the Albertinum, Dresden.

Further information can be found here.

 

 

Café Deutschland – more than a coffee-table book

20. February 2019
Alex Buck Café Deutschland is an extraordinary book. The format alone is astonishing: the reader is faced with almost 2,000 pages. That’s the kind of scale that can paralyse rather than intrigue, but once you get past its formidable size, you’ll find.. View Article

Titian/Gerhard Richter at Palazzo Te in Mantua

7. December 2018
Julia Linsen “Why are other paintings hanging next to these Titian masterpieces?” wonders a visitor out loud. “Isn’t the work of Titian good enough? Don’t you think that other artist is too confident presenting his work next to this masterpiece?” “That other.. View Article

Gerhard Richter at Museum Barberini, Potsdam

9. July 2018
Carina Krause “Abstraction is Gerhard Richter’s big theme,” says Ortrud Westheider, director of Museum Barberini in Potsdam, which means this retrospective, which deals exclusively with this part of his oeuvre, is long overdue. The result is one of the most exciting exhibitions.. View Article

Georg Baselitz at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen

6. February 2018
Carina Krause The first work encountered by visitors to the Baselitz exhibition at Fondation Beyeler in Riehen is a large-scale Dystopisches Paar (Dystopian Couple, 2015). In an echo of Otto Dix’s Die Eltern des Künstlers (The Parents of the Artist, 1924), Baselitz.. View Article

Frankfurter Allgemeine Forum Art Conference 2017

6. December 2017
Carina Krause, English translation by Emma Sayers Der Kunstmarkt im Superkunstjahr 2017 (The Art Market in the Super Art Year 2017) was the name of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Forum Art Conference, which took place in Berlin a few days ago. Ten years have passed since the last.. View Article

Are there too many art fairs?

13. October 2017
Carina Krause in interview with art collector H.P. We talked with art collector H.P. about the constantly growing number of art fairs.   The last few years have seen the launch of many new art fairs. The latest are the satellite fairs of Art Cologne in Berlin and.. View Article

Anselm Kiefer in Italy

17. July 2017
Gabi Scardi and Julia Linsen In an exploration of the popularity of Anselm Kiefer in Italy, we asked art critic and curator Gabi Scardi about Kiefer’s relationship with that country.   Anselm Kiefer is an artist ‘pluricelebrato’, in other words, he is one of the.. View Article

It’s all about Data!

30. March 2017
Prof. Dr. Alex Buck Yes, this year’s TEFAF is once more “the museum of the world“ or as the German newspaper Handelsblatt put it, “TEFAF art fair, yet again, gathers the best of everything: baroque paintings and modern masters, jewellery, manuscripts, sculpture and design.“.. View Article

Women in the Art World

6. March 2017
Carina Krause Last January millions of women around the world gathered for so-called women’s marches, to rally against the oppression of women and demonstrate for their rights and for equality. Reason enough to take a look at the situation of women in.. View Article

Fall Auctions in New York

11. November 2016
Carina Krause An unprecedented number of high-priced artworks by Gerhard Richter will be on offer at the fall auctions in New York. Although Christie’s had to manage without any Richter at all at its Post-War & Contemporary Art evening sale last October.. View Article

Sigmar Polke, Palazzo Grassi, Venice

12. October 2016
Julia Linsen (Venice, Italy) Currently running is the Sigmar Polke retrospective at the Pinault Foundation, Palazzo Grassi, in Venice. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Polke’s birth and the 30th anniversary of his participation in the 1986 Venice Biennale, where he.. View Article

Germany’s new Cultural Property Protection Law

22. July 2016
Carina Krause Why Monika Grütters, Commissioner of the Federal Government for Culture and Media, went ahead with a bill that caused as much controversy as the revision of the Kulturgutschutzgesetz (Cultural Property Protection Law) is difficult to say. However, the law was.. View Article

Tefaf Art Market Report 2016

12. April 2016
Carina Krause Economist Dr. Clare McAndrew has presented the Tefaf Art Market Report annually since 2008. Her report is based on a survey of auction houses, art dealers and collectors, as well as information gathered from different art and finance databases. This.. View Article

Gerhard Richter – Abstract Painting, 724-4

1. March 2016
Carina Krause Gerhard Richter: A Life in Painting, by Dietmar Elger, is a biography of the artist. The book covers Richter’s career, from his early days in Dresden to his current success. Nowadays Richter’s works achieve top prices at auction; his exhibitions.. View Article